On Saturday, October 23, the commercial ad for Fem Creme Bleach, a popular whitening product in India, was removed from social media platforms. The takedown came after Narottam Mishra, the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, India, threatened to take legal actions because the ad showed objectionable content. The advertisement depicted a same-sex couple celebrating Karwa Chauth, a festival for Hindu women.
Dabur India Limited, a consumer goods company that manufactured Fem Creme Bleach, issued an apology on Monday, October 25th. In the statement posted in the company's Twitter account, Dabur India announced that "Fem's Karwachauth campaign has been withdrawn from all social media handles." "We unconditionally apologize for unintentionally hurting people's sentiments," the statement added.
Fem's Karwachauth campaign has been withdrawn from all social media handles and we unconditionally apologise for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments. pic.twitter.com/hDEfbvkm45
— Dabur India Ltd (@DaburIndia) October 25, 2021
Mishra criticized the ad, fearing that allowing it can lead to more portrayals of objectionable contents, saying that it can start with "two women celebrating Karva Chauth." "Tomorrow, they will come up with an advertisement that shows two men getting married," he added.
Karva Chauth is a festival celebrated by married Hindu women who fast during the daytime for the safety of their husbands. Recent trends also include single men and women hoping to get a good partner.
Fem Creme Bleach's advertisement received both support and criticism online. One Twitter user accuses Dabur India of causing outrage, saying it is "a new featish [fetish] among brands."
Why would lesbian couple celebrate a allegedly patriarchal ritual like #KarwaChauth?
The conceptualisation of the ad itself is fundamentally flawed. It seems Dabur/Fem's only objective was to get their share of stick and outrage.
Its a new featish among brands.
— Vikrant ~ विक्रांत (@vikrantkumar) October 23, 2021
Another Twitter satirically supported saying that although love is love no matter form it comes, "first you need to be fair-skinned."
Love is love but first you need to be fair skinned
- fem/dabur https://t.co/ivXg3v8Cuf
— arcy ⚓︎ (@johnnyswifee) October 23, 2021
Other people on social media welcomed the advertisement. A supporter of the LGBTQ community advised people who are offended to just "ignore this advertisement and stop the consumption of Dabur products."
Since LGBT is part of our community and they don't cause us any harm, I don't see any reason to boycott fem advertisement.... their choice, their life...if anyone has any problem, they simply can ignore this advertisement and stop the consumption of Dabur products.
— Deependra. दीपेन्द्र (@dpendra_chauhan) October 23, 2021